The Marine Corps is rolling out a new rifle — and a whole lot of other gear

Cpl. Henry Lopez fires on targets with an M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, December 3, 2014. Cpl. Henry Lopez fires on targets with an M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, December 3, 2014. US Marine Corps/Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders The Marine Corps plans to equip more infantrymen with the M27 rifle, which has been in limited use for sometime.

The M27 offers longer range and better accuracy than the M4 currently used by Marine rifleman, though not everyone will get the new rifle.

The M27 is likely to be just one piece of a plethora of new gear headed to Marines in the near future.

More than a year after announcing it was experimenting with a new rifle for infantrymen, the Marine Corps has said it will distribute the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle to more Marines, including those outside of the infantry squad.

The M27 is currently carried by just one member of the fire team, the automatic rifleman. But Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told Military.com in December that the service plans to field the rifle more widely.

Each member of the rifle squad will receive the $3,000 rifle , as will others outside the squad — though the exact number has not been finalized.

“I don’t think mortars and javelin guys need the M27,” Neller told Military.com, but artillery forward observers, fire-support team members, and engineers might get them. “I’m going to wait and see,” Neller said. “It’s not that much [money].” A competitor fires an M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle at targets during the 4th Annual Quantico Combat Shooting Match at Marine Corps Base Quantico, October 29, 2014. A competitor fires an M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle at targets during the 4th Annual Quantico Combat Shooting Match at Marine Corps Base Quantico, October 29, 2014. Marine Corps photo

The M27 was introduced in 2010, initially meant to replace the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. The 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines carried out pre-deployment exercises with the M27 in late 2016 to evaluate it for wider use in infantry units.

Neller — who has said he thinks a ” big-ass fight ” is on the horizon — suggested in April he was considering providing all riflemen with M27s, which have a slightly longer effective range than the M4 used by other members of the squad.

M27s also have a free-floating barrel, which reduces the effects of rifle movement during firing on accuracy, as well as a proprietary gas-piston system that makes it more reliable and reduces wear. The rifle’s cost and the possibility its higher rate of fire could lead to more ammunition use were two potential drawbacks Marine Corps officials examined in late 2016.

A request for information issued by the Marines in February asked for 11,000 M27s, which would be sufficient to equip every squad. A pre-solicitation issued in August requested up to 50,800 of the rifle — a move by the Marines to make sure that gunmaker Heckler & Koch was able to supply an order that big, according to Military.com. ‘I’m ready […]